Candlemas jottings





A scrapbook of jotted-down quotations, antiphons, references in notebooks and online blog places. As if I was gathering small candles to be blessed, another tradition for the Feast of the Presentation.


The Catholic and Australian poet Les Murray in a Paris Review interview:


And I would gradually discover that orthodox sacraments had the answer to human sacrifice, which I saw was regularly demanded by all ideologies. Really, I think my assent to the full sacramental dimension of the Church happened long before I realized it had. And that’s what I have held on to. The crux for me is summed up in lines from The Boys Who Stole the Funeral spoken by a dead World War One digger: “The true god / gives his flesh and blood. Idols demand yours off you.”


Evelyn Waugh on the Mass in a time of change and trial for him:

In the letter to the Catholic Herald on 7th August 1964 he argued that: “‘Participation’ in the Mass does not mean hearing our own voices. It means God hearing our voices. Only He knows who is ‘participating’ at Mass. I believe, to compare small things with great, that I ‘participate’ in a work of art when I study it and love it silently. No need to shout.”

He finishes the letter by again adapting, and significantly adding to, the words of his earlier diary entry: “I am now old but I was young when I was received into the Church. I was not at all attracted by the splendour of her great ceremonies – which the Protestants could well counterfeit. Of the extraneous attractions of the Church which most drew me was the spectacle of the priest and his server at low Mass, stumping up to the altar without a glance to discover how many or how few he had in his congregation; a craftsman and his apprentice; a man with a job which he alone was qualified to do.

“That is the Mass I have grown to know and love. By all means let the rowdy have their ‘dialogues’, but let us who value silence not be completely forgotten.”


Biographer Martin Stannard on Muriel Spark’s fictional method:

There was human time and there was God’s time. She played with these two spheres of reality: using ghost narrators, revealing endings early to destroy conventional suspense, starting at the end or in the middle, fracturing the plausible surfaces of obsessive detail with sudden discontinuities.



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